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The 5 Best Airport Bars in the US

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Just-canceled flights can be such a drag — especially when it means you’re suddenly facing several Netflix-free hours to fill gate-side. To make the best of this unwanted pause in your travels, nothing quite soothes the spirit like a stiff drink savored amid a lively atmosphere. While such appealing joints are certainly scarce at airports, luckily for travelers, there are several around the country that stand out from the rest. Maximize untimely connections by hunkering down at one of these five booze-fueled oases and watch your flight-delay woes immediately dissipate.

For Beer Lovers

While beautifully curated, the public art exhibitions on display at San Diego International Airport (SAN) can only hold the interest of restless passengers for so long. Instead, find reprieve at local craft-beer favorite Stone Brewing. The upbeat, rustic space has a dozen taps — although ordering a Moscow Mule wouldn’t induce a raised eyebrow either — so pass the grueling time by sampling, say, the smoked porter followed by the mocha IPA. BBQ duck tacos and chimichurri steak sandwiches promise fortification as well. stonebrewing.com, Terminal 2, near Gate 36.

Image courtesy of Stone Brewing.
Image courtesy of Stone Brewing.

For Wine Enthusiasts

Navigating the perennially congested Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is exhausting. One fine way to rejuvenate is by roosting at SeaLegs Wine Bar beside a hefty, burrata-topped meatball. At this outpost of the breezy Huntington Beach original, patrons pore over a menu that’s naturally heavy on California selections — from Conundrum to Justin. Big spenders who forgot their Ambien can ensure much-needed slumber arrives on that red-eye by springing for a bottle of Far Niente off the Captain’s List. sealegswinebar.com, Terminal 2, near gate 24.

Image courtesy of Sealegs Wine Bar.
Image courtesy of SeaLegs Wine Bar.

For Cocktail Aficionados 

One Flew South’s glorious pimento cheese-meatloaf sandwiches and dragon rolls served at the pine-and-marble sushi bar put fluorescent-lit food court fare to shame. But this upscale retreat in chaotic Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is most beloved for its roster of masterful libations — designed, as the list reads, for light, classic, innovative and determined travelers alike. With just a few sips of the Cab Calloway — made with Oloroso sherry, apricot, Angostura and dry vermouth — or a Jumping Jack Flight — featuring applejack, sorghum and cayenne cider — being stuck at the airport feels like a serendipitous luxury. oneflewsouthatl.com; Terminal E, center core.

Image courtesy of One Flew South.
Image courtesy of One Flew South.

For Eco-Minded Foodies

Denver residents love dining at Root Down, a sustainable-minded restaurant situated in a vintage gas station downtown. Thankfully, visitors who don’t have a chance to pop in have yet another opportunity to feast on harissa-spiked Colorado lamb sliders at the spin-off post in Denver International Airport (DEN). With a glam, mid-century aesthetic, it’s a calming place to unwind with a Coconut Gin Fizz or one of 24 locally-made brews like Left Hand’s Milk Stout Nitro. Bonus: morning flights lead to pulled pork and olive oil cornbread Benedicts. rootdowndia.com, Concourse C, center core.

Image courtesy of Root Down.
Image courtesy of Root Down.

For Country Music Lovers

Two-stepping at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the one-time haunt of greats like Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline, is one rousing way to spend an evening in Nashville. The offshoot of this legendary honky-tonk at Nashville International Airport (BNA) also provides salvation to frustrated folks with missed flights. Settle into this purple-hued dive bar with alluring kitsch on the walls and knock back Woodford Reserve while taking in an intimate live music performance. Nips of bourbon alongside a half slab of ribs make the waiting game far less painful. tootsies.net; Concourse C, near gate C7.

Image courtesy of the Tootsie's Orchid Lounge Facebook page.
Image courtesy of the Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Facebook page.

What are your favorite airport bars in the country? Tell us about them, below.

Featured image courtesy of SeaLegs Wine Bar.

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